Motorola wins injunction: Xbox 360 and Windows 7 sales banned in Germany

By Lee Kaelin on May 3, 2012, 11:00 AM

Microsoft was dealt a huge blow by Motorola Mobility after the latter was granted an injunction by the Mannheim Courts in Germany, preventing the Redmond-based software giant from selling online or in German stores its Xbox 360 games console and Windows 7 operating system. The results of this court case is just one of several which are said to include around 50 patents that the phone maker claims Microsoft should have licensed.

The conflict centers around Microsoft's use of Motorola Mobility's patents for the H.264 video compression standard, which is used widely in the industry. The patent itself describes a way of reducing the size of video files and is licensed under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. Microsoft rejected the original licensing terms, claiming that such an agreement would result in the software giant paying an annual bill of around $4 billion. Motorola disputes that figure.

"We are pleased that the Mannheim Court found that Microsoft products infringe Motorola Mobility's intellectual property. As a path forward, we remain open to resolving this matter. Fair compensation is all that we have been seeking for our intellectual property," a spokesperson said in a statement.

The court's decision effectively means Microsoft must remove all infringing products from sale from the German market, although a seven day grace period has been given during which time the OS maker can appeal. That said, it's unlikely it will ever get to the point where that will happen. Motorola will most likely use the court win as leverage to get licensing agreed, plus backdated compensation for past usage.

"This is one step in a long process, and we are confident that Motorola will eventually be held to its promise to make its standard essential patents available on fair and reasonable terms for the benefit of consumers who enjoy video on the web," said a spokesman for Microsoft in a statement. "Motorola is prohibited from acting on today's decision, and our business in Germany will continue as usual while we appeal this decision and pursue the fundamental issue of Motorola's broken promise."

As a precaution, Microsoft moved its European distribution center from Germany to the Netherlands last month, to minimize the possibility of any potential disruptions. This case follows on from a decision by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) last week, which also ruled that Microsoft's Xbox 360 games console is infringing patents owned by Motorola. A hearing in the US has been set for May 7, although it's possible the Judge will delay the ruling until a later date.




User Comments: 21

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Guest said:

Wow German courts just allow anything now don't they?

It's bad enough they gave an injunction to Apple for patents on technologies originally patened as far back as 1982, yeesh.

This one seems legit though, M$ saying "We're not paying for licensing because it costs us money" is pretty ridiculous. So they're pirating the use of the product since they didn't pay for it? If this happens in North America, I'll laugh beyond belief (bad enough x360 owners got sucked into paid yearly memberships and HDDVD upgrades, $50 cables to transfer data from one to another, etc etc).

Guest said:

Thing is tho now microsoft are getting asked for money they are saying its not right but when its microsoft asking for money they think its ok, is it me or does microsoft just want to be extremely greedy?

stewi0001 stewi0001 said:

All of this patent drama makes me not want to invent anything...

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

All of this patent drama makes me not want to invent anything...

Amen to that. This is going to retard creativity.

TJGeezer said:

Let's all pause and give thanks to our various countries' legislating lawyers that the patent system is all fixed now.

As for Microsoft, of course it's greedy: It's a corporation. No worse than Apple, though, and arguably better since they stopped stealing directly from ISVs. At least I heard they're actually, honestly encouraging independent developers now, plus they're not soaking them for 30% like Apple or promising partnerships and then hobbling their own ecosystem "partners" like some other big software corporations.

Germany used to have well enforced restraint of trade laws. Did the lawyers fix those, too?

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

Germany is going to become a tech wasteland if they keep going this way.. no one will bother to sell product there for fear of running afoul of the what can best be described as libertarian patent law policy.

Guest said:

please explain what that prejudiced bullshit means Mr Ranger sir, because in Europe we don't have Libertarianism, and nothing in wikipedia's entry on the philosophy makes any sense in the context of patent law or this ruling

fimbles fimbles said:

Anti-Libertarianism

Against freedom of thought, expression, etc.

Libertarianism being the opposite.

Ps: im european

Guest said:

What goes around, comes around, Microsoft... They've demanded a royalty on every Android device that's reportedly more than they make on their own Windows Phone 7, this is simply their payback. Gotta love their excuse - "we didn't pay because it would have cost us too much". Wonder how they'd have reacted if they got the same answer from some of the Android manufacturers.

m4a4 m4a4 said:

I'm with MS on this one. Sure they can be seen as greedy, but Motorola promised MS (and many others) that the patents would be useable based on FRAND terms and they are going against their word. Who cares if they "demanded a royalty on every Android device", they can do that because they didn't promise otherwise...

Guest said:

Sorry, but this isn't a case of Microsoft greed, and Motorola wanting their fair share.

[link]

over 1000 patents, 97 pages tied to H.264, 4 pages of which are Microsoft owned.

The fact that Motorola has convinced a judge to ban the sale of Windows 7 and Xbox over a few lines of code in a codec is just *$&$ing nuts.

[link]

Night Hacker Night Hacker said:

I can't stand patents, the concept of owning an idea is absurd.

Guest said:

Finaly, its time for Microsoft to pay.... they love the concept of ideia theft .. I hope to live enough to see MS fall !!

Guest said:

Germany is really becoming a festering turd of a country.

Chazz said:

As far as I understand, this ruling is meaningless. Microsoft won the case in USA which prohibits Motorola from enforcing this ban.

cookiedude cookiedude said:

As far as I understand, this ruling is meaningless. Microsoft won the case in USA which prohibits Motorola from enforcing this ban.

Different countries, different legal systems... last time I checked American law doesn't govern the whole planet I don't know enough about this to criticise or support, however, if Motorolla have gone against what was promised under FRAND then I can see why MS (or any other company in such a situation) would feel aggrieved.

Chazz said:

Yes, but Motorola is USA company and as such is bound by USA rulings. Yes, officials in germany ruled in favor of Motorola but I think they will face legal troubles here if they act upon it.

Chazz said:

[link]

And to the people supporting Motorola, as the guest above said, this isn't about Microsoft. What Motorola is doing is wrong. If everyone that owned patents in h.264 did the same as motorola things would get out of hand. Add another 22+ thousand dollars to the price of your new phone and that's just to allow it to do h.264. The prices of our devices would get outrageous if things went this way. Standards would die, there would be no GSM, no HDMI, no wifi. Every company would come up with their own implimentations of these technologies. Imagine going to a friends house and not being able to use their wifi because you have a samsung phone/laptop instead of a nokia one. I think Techspot should educate their readers about this.

rculver9056 rculver9056 said:

Tosh!

Microsoft tries to put codecs in Windows so people don't have to download these codec packs with all the associated crap you get with them, and look where it gets them.

Perhaps you should have a go at the patent trolls instead...

Chazz said:

I'm not sure if that was in regards to what I said. I'm not talking about normal patent trolling or the patent system it self necessarily. I'm focused on companies using standards essential patents in litigation. These standards only became standards because the rights holders promised to be fair and reasonable with their terms. It has nothing to do with what codec's Microsoft puts in their software. The issue is bigger than that. Microsoft has patents as well for h.264 so they could take part in these same shady tactics if they wanted to. And they'd be wrong as well, imo.

Guest said:

Microsoft are just as much to blame. They send lawyers all over the place to get other mobile companies to pay the royalities for using android! They all do it - so development of IT can be slowed down and cost us all more!

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